The Police State Infects An Apathetic Canada

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Not to sound too alarmist or impolite, but what do you call a country with governments that do the following:

  1. arrest peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders in/near a designated free speech zone under non-existent laws, then beat, intimidate and abuse them,
  2. declare a panel discussion at a public university to be a demonstration to arrest someone for a probation violation,
  3. define protest to be a mental or personality disorder to lock up an 82-year-old devoted protester for the rest of her life.

I would call this a totalitarian, authoritarian, gulag-loving police state. Welcome to the Canada and BC of Stephen Harper and Gordon Campbell in 2010.

I’m not making up this nonsense.

Number 1 happened to hundreds of people in Toronto during the G20 in June. Numbers 2 and 3 happened in the last 4 days in Toronto to Alex Hundert and in BC to Betty Krawczyk, which you can read about here and here.

What are we supposed to do to get people’s attention to the arbitrary suspension of civil liberties?

  • use all caps?
  • write a sensational editorial title like “The Police State Date Rapes Canada”?
  • spam everyone?
  • scream at people at train stations and bus stops?
  • stop whining, and just join the apathetic masses?

This police state has slipped into Canada without significant criticism from the mainstream corporate media or the governing Conservative-Liberal coalition in Ottawa.

The goal is, of course, for the political leadership in Canada and BC to intimidate and terrorize the population so much that we choose to avoid public dissent, protest or even assembly.

The rule of law is an ass this year in Canada.

Our leaders openly mock it.

My hope is in Don Davies, NDP MP and vice-chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. They will continue meeting soon to discuss the G20 debacle which threatened the fabric and principles of Canada’s democracy, and as of Friday night, is obviously a continuing threat. Contact him by email or here.

My other advice is for all of us to contact all the members of the House of Commons Public Safety Committee and let them know that the police do not have the right to arrest people under fictional laws. Nor are police allowed to arrest someone because they declare a public meeting at a public university to be a protest just to violate that person’s parole.

Charges were never even filed for hundreds of people arrested at the G20. This parole violation arrest Friday night will also not stand up in court.

Here are their email addresses for easy pasting [new members updated 10.11.10]:

We should also contact the BC Liberal premier and attorney-general and let them know that protest is a vital part of a democracy, not a mental or personality disorder.

We should also spread these stories to our people, our networks, our social media existence.

We should also send these stories to the journalists in the country that we respect. It doesn’t matter if they are local, provincial, national, tv, newspaper, online, or magazine.

We must make the bad people stop. Right now, they are counting on the terror of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment to keep more of us from rallying.

So we need to change the climate before we take to the streets. Calling out a bully is a critical tactic. We have to call out our political leaders to keep Canada from becoming more of a gulag that it is already slipping into.

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Post-partisan eco-socialist. at Politics, Re-Spun
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, professor, speaker, consultant, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website,

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16 thoughts on “The Police State Infects An Apathetic Canada”

  1. My email to Don Davies []:

    I hope your transition back into session is going as humanely as possible.

    I hope you can address Canada’s eroding rule of law when the Public Safety Committee re-convenes.

    The above piece goes live on my blog this morning on the egregious civil liberty threats in Canada in the last 4 days. The piece has links to the details of these two cases:

    1. Alex Hundert’s re-arrest on Friday night in Toronto is predicated on the police declaring a public meeting at Ryerson to be a parole violating demonstration. This would be a precedent-setting compromise to academic and civil free speech in Canada.

    2. The BC attorney-general is asserting that protest is a mental or personality disorder in order to put Betty Krawczyk in jail for life. Despite the provincial jurisdiction in this case, the national implications for criminalizing the nature of protest are far more insidious than a SLAPP lawsuit.

    We cannot allow actions that compromise the rule of law to intimidate dissent and freedom of assembly and speech in Canada.

    Can you please bring this to caucus and/or the next Public Safety Committee to reverse the increasing disrespect to the rule of law in Canada?

    With great thanks for whatever you can do to help.

    Yours, concerned enough to bring this up with you,

  2. Thank you for telling it like it is. What you say is true and terrifying, and we all need to wake up and fight back. You’ve inspired me to email all of the members of the House of Commons Public Safety Committee myself, and I hope you’ve inspired others to do the same.

    1. yes, the gulag mentality is disturbing, but what terrifies me is the calm with which Canadians are taking it all.

      thanks, corporate media!

      btw, i’ve included a list of email addresses for the entire public safety committee back up in the post.

  3. I’m still hoping that the ongoing erasure of the everyday people who were picked up after the G20, people who had their faces smeared on the front covers of newspapers all over the country, who were tried in the media, who had their names published, who were fingered as the “most wanted”, still hoping that their stories will not be erased in favour of the stories of high profile activists or people whose resistance was not defined as violent, who had their charges dropped. There is a story here that everyone or at least most, seem to have decided to ignore. So a few people will be crushed by the state and by the police, with not a word uttered or written by those who watch. Fascism? Apathy? Most definitely. Who knows the names of the “most wanted” or the “worst of the worst” beyond those who are understood to be activist organizer politicals? Who knows their names? Who cares about their stories?

  4. Rafe Mair jumped in on the Betty K issue, calling bullshit. literally. the piece isn’t on his website right now, but maybe tomorrow.

    Subject: Betty Krawczyk a lifer?
    From: “Rafe Mair”
    Date: Sat, 25 Sep 2010 16:29:39 -0700
    To: “Rafe Mair”


    Most will know that that Betty Krawczyk is an environmental protester and has been in jail a number of times. Most recently she spent 10 months in the slammer for refusing to obey a court order keeping her off public land that Peter Kiewit, the Campbell government’s always favoured construction company, was using to take the Sea-to-Sky highway to the considerable displeasure of many. She served her term then appealed it on a matter of principle. The Campbell government instructed Crown Counsel to seek a ruling that Betty is a habitual criminal and ask the Court Of Appeal to consider life imprisonment of this 82 year old lady, In support of this argument, Crown Counsel presented two cases where serial crimes had brought long prison terms, even life. Both these two cases involved violent sex assaults on children

    Why do I connect this application directly to Gordon (Pinocchio) Campbell’s government?

    Because no Crown counsel would deal with this highly politicized case, using these horrific cases in support, without clear direction of the Attorney-General and it’s inconceivable that Campbell would not have OK’d the decision.


    When it hit the fan and the public expressed outrage that these two cases would be used in Betty’s case the Crown, disingenuously tried to explain that the cases they pleaded were only to sway the judges to look at Betty’s long history of devil disobedience and give her a longer penalty, even life and that these cases were only cited in support of that argument.

    This is bullshit and there’s no other word for it.

    The principle that the court can interfere with the lower court and increase the sentence need hardly be pled. The Court of Appeal understands that well and needs no help from the Crown’s lawyers and their pedophilia cases – or any other cases for that matter – on that point. That being the case, why would the government’s lawyers raise these two cases?

    The answer is simple and disgraceful. This is a clear attempt to cow the environmental movement into taking their bad medicine, like it or not.

    (I impute no impropriety to Crown Counsel. They can plead such cases as they wish, the propriety or relevance of such will be to the Court. I don’t for a moment suggest that they were any part of the political decison I allege)

    What’s this really all about?

    There are a number of river projects on the horizon. These arise out of Independent Power Companies (IPPs) damming our rivers and selling the power to BC Hydro. (The companies don’t like to use the word “dam” and much prefer “weir”)

    In order to be fully aware of what these projects are all about one must be aware of these points.

    1. Far from being small operations they block up to 90% of the stream or river. To see for yourself, just got to the Ashlu project just north of Squamish. Not only do these projects kill fish by silting the river while construction is on, they permanently damage if not outright kill fish populations. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they must clear-cut large swaths of trees to build roads and erect transmission lines. They are environmental catastrophes and not only damage unto death the fish but do the same to the ecology the river sustains. The damage to wildlife is incalculable.

    2. These are not little “Mom and Pop” companies but huge like Ledcor, General Electric and the Dupont Family trust.

    3. BC Hydro has been compelled by the Campbell government to enter into sweetheart deals with these IPPs on a take or pay basis (Hydro pays even though it doesn’t need or use the power at double or more the export rate and 8 times more expensive than Hydro makes its own power.

    4. Because the IPPs can only generate power when their rivers are high from the annual run-off, BC Hydro can’t use the power they generate. It has full reservoirs and lots of power of its own. This gives Hydro two choices – it can use the IPP power instead of their own, at 8 times the cost or they can sell it on the open market at less than ½ what they paid for it. It’s worth noting, I think, that we the citizens of BC are the only shareholders of BC Hydro and it’s us that’s getting ripped off.

    5. BC Hydro is going broke according to economist Erik Andersen and can only be kept alive by raising electricity rates to industry and you and me. Hydro’s only alive on paper because it has been using an accounting procedure whereby they can take their accumulated losses, package them and say that because they are owed this money it’s not a loss but an asset! No kidding! The BC Auditor-General in a recent report confirmed that and commanded them to change.

    6. Over the years, BC Hydro has declared a very large dividend each year to our government in the hundreds of mullions of dollars. Hydro can no longer do that because of the foregoing so, guess what? They will raise your electricity bills so they have enough money to give you your dividend.

    The Campbell government, looking ahead, has threatened, through the Betty Krawczyk case, draconian legal consequences to any who dare interfere with their plans.

    I would call shame on them except they have demonstrated over and over again that they have no shame.

  5. Saturday April 23rd. Election coming up. Don’t forget to vote. Understand if Harper loses the election all he is doing is slipping the noose(as Campbell did with his resignation) for all of his criminal abuses and the next ass-clown in the big-chair is going to plod ahead with the S.P.P. (NAU). Also don’t forget to provide as much “profile” information as you can for the upcoming census, contracted out to Lockheed-Martin, a U.S. Military Industrial Complex contractor, known primarily for making jets, bombs and of course anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, outlawed by the international community. Ask yourself why a U.S. weapons manufacturer, in and out of court on a regular basis because of charges of fraud and worse is being allowed to keep data on all Canadians. People in the U.K. too. Why is a coporation that makes devices designed only to kill people and destroy nations being told who you are, what you do, WHERE YOU LIVE.
    “Peaceful protest” is not action, it is sitting-duckism, the world community is not going to come to your aid people, they have their own similar problems. The elitist cabal of financial and corporate fascists cannot be taken down with words or slogans or protest chants.

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